Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk "Top Gun"

KIT #: 07523
PRICE: 3600 yen SRP
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2023 Limited Edition


When Top Gun started in 1969, it did not have any of its own aircraft; just eight F-4 crew and an intelligence officer. Its first aircraft were A-4s borrowed from VC-7 and VF-126 (both squadrons which have since been disestablished). the NFWS stayed with the A-4 for all of its time at NAS Miramar, adding T-38s, F-5s, F-16s, and F-14s until moving to NAS Fallon with the closure of NAS Miramar. The last Skyhawks operated by Top Gun were ex-Marine A-4Ms. Top Gun aircraft were generally stripped of unnecessary equipment such as guns, some avionics and outer wing pylons.


Hasegawa's A-4E dates to 2000 when it basically replaced the older Monogram and ESCI A-4s. The Top Gun markings options have obviously sold well as this release is basically a reissue in terms of markings, of two previous limited releases of 2010 and 2013. I do find it a bit puzzling that they have not done a VF-126 boxing as the variety of schemes is considerably larger with planes of that unit. For those interested, the base boxing was last released in 2018.

Despite the newer Hobby Boss release, most Scooter fans will gravitate towards this particular kit. It offers pretty much all one needs and thanks to not clipping off sections of sprues, you can do more than the kit variants. I saw bits for the A-4H, for example.

You get a pretty nice cockpit with a four piece bang seat, control stick and rudder pedals. There are decals for the instrument panels and side consoles if you wish to use them. You get intake trunking to the first compressor stage and exhaust from the last. There is room for nose weight and the nose gear well is attached to the cockpit floor.

Typically, there are inserts galore. These are for the wing tip lights, fin tip, the base of the fin fillet (you have the options of using the avionics hump), and the lower rear fuselage where there are inserts for whether you want to use the flare/chaff dispensers. Even these can be ones with the plates over them. Slats can be extended along with the flaps. There are also inserts for the guns. Keep in mind that a lot of sprues are used for the unarmed TA-4J. One will have to do some trimming and hole drilling to match the markings option of your choice.

Landing gear is nicely done and includes the nose wheel steering equipment. You can pose the speed brakes open or closed. It was not uncommon for these to be barely open when on the ground. Rarely fully extended. There are no weapons included though you do have two fuel tanks. These can be built without the fins on the back. Normally the finless tank would be carried on the center line. Canopy can be posed open or closed and you can install a boarding ladder, assuming you open the holes for it. This kit has the curved refueling probe but the straight one is also included.  

Instructions have the usual Gunze paint references and offer two camo schemes. One is the box art plane in the greys and grey-blues. The other is a brown/green/tan plane. For this latter option, you have to be fairly precise on the camo demarcation lines so they match some of the two color decals. The painting and decalling directions provide full upper and lower schemes along with both sides so you can get that correct. The sheet itself is nicely printed and is as good as any aftermarket sheet. There are aftermarket sheets out there as aggressor schemes are quite popular with Skyhawk modelers.


Despite my fondness of A-4s, I've really not built many of them and I've only built one Hasegawa version (shown below). Perhaps it is time I did another.

June 2023

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